Faith Means Wisdom, Beauty and Love: Highlights on Martin Luther and Claude Monet

   
. . . God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, 
           and in the flowers and clouds and stars. Martin Luther



The Liquidambar or Sweetgum Tree in Fall and Winter

 







Two days ago, November 10 in 1483 (worded to emphasize 
the ever-present past) Martin Luther was born. Reading about him inspired me to write another poem. Here are two poems, old and new, 
in that order, in his honor

Reformation

Hope has two beautiful daughters.
Their names are anger and courage—
anger at the way things are, and courage to see
that they do not remain the way they are.
                   Augustine of Hippo      
                                                                  
It’s a simple thing.
When I survived the storm,
having promised God
to become a priest, I did.
Then I began to see abuses
which disgusted me.
One by one, I named them,
nailed them on the church door.
The churchly princes did not like
my telling the world the truth about them.
They honored me by declaring me an outlaw,
which, of course, gave me many followers
I had not counted on. I said of the princes,
“To hell with them,” and rejoined myself
to the peasant prince of peace.
I said to the warring princes in gold and 
laced brocade, I no longer belong to you. 
I am no longer a citizen of your country. 
You have no right over my person 
to deny me, denounce me or burn me.
You did not listen when I was among you.
What you do now is none of my concern
so long as it does no further harm to me,
but be herewith warned~

I do not think the Prince of Peace
will like you much for harming any of his own.
And so may each one be justified by faith alone,
but judged by word and deed.

             Alla Renée Bozarth

            Purgatory Papers

 
All Saints Day Black Walnut Tree
Autumn Blaze

The True Original Meaning of Luther’s Reformation

Who loves not woman, wine and song
   remains a fool his whole life long.
                                 Martin Luther

Sweet Martin, so smart and talented yet tortured by pompous
idiots allergic to dissent, you knew the right way to live,
which was to make love and sing and yes, drink wine and 
be cheerful, so you at forty-one helped smuggle a beautiful
young nun out of the convent in a pickled fish barrel and
married her, celebrated the joy of sex and made six children
together, grew gardens, rejoiced in the glorious colors 
of vegetables, let juices of plum and tomato roll down 
your chins, sank your teeth into corn with oodles 
of sweet cream butter, delighted in the multiverses of each
other’s smooth firm bodies, and learned to love your own
bodily existence as well, even as passion matured into
compassion while time sagged around the edges of your faces
and created soft folds in your beloved's body and your own,
you loved them both the more gratefully and tenderly—

And today as then, nobody understands what you meant
when you simply insisted that people stop trying to buy 
their way into heaven by using money for indulgences 
as substitutes for spontaneous and disciplined genuine acts
of unselfish love, that flow from the soul without regard 
to self-interest—

And what you meant by “faith alone,” referring to Paul’s
Letter to the Romans, was not trying to earn your way 
into heaven by proving to God that you blindly,
unintelligently believed the works without question, 
but rather, either way, whether through unselfish or 
even occasionally selfish acts of love, or by living in
unselfconsciously buoyant awareness and wonderment 
with Holy Mystery, you should be utterly yourself 
as best you can, and not give a thought to reward 
for your ego on Earth or anywhere Else.
And Amen.             

                        Alla Renée Bozarth
                       Purgatory Papers



What Jesus Really Said

Not much.
I am
here—
now—
with you.


I see you,
God-in-you.


I need to touch you.
I need you to touch me.


I need to be alone sometimes.
I will not leave you alone.


Respect all beings.
Be compassionate.


Take risks to help others
and to become your whole self.


Be present in every moment.
Love as fully as life allows.

Live as fully as love allows.

I love you.

Let yourself be loved.
Accept acceptance.

Remember me.

Alla Renée Bozarth
 
Wisdom and Wonderment
Sheed & Ward 1993 and
The Book of Bliss
iUniverse 2000


Rosa Mystica

           for Lyndall and Lora, after Paris and Chartres

For one, revelation came in the form 
of a dead dove being eaten by a cat—
communion on the lip of the labyrinth 
cathedral that houses the birthing gown
of the Mother of Christ, and the Holy Well.

For the other, a street person
dancing on a bridge near Notre Dame—
to music that comes
from a miniature house on wheels
which she draws along like a shadow
before or after her, with its colorful flowers,
like a dog on a leash— dancing on the bridge 
between heaven and hell
in beatific madness.

In perfect union
the mind returns
to its senses,
finds its voice
in the stillness 
of the Rose.

The Word is reborn in her words,
and the world breathes
with more ease, accepting what is.

             Alla Renée Bozarth
The Night Sky that Loves Me 
in Quartet, copyright 2011.


Two days from now on November 14 in 1840, the Master of Impressionism Claude Monet was born. Who is not inspired by the beauty he brought forth to make our eyes happy and our souls rejoice?
                                                        Claude Monet

ate his garden with all
his senses, cooked up feasts
with flowering hands and made
soul paintings of his flowers —
­lost his vision in old age
for a sad time but was given
second sight by surgery, and then —
­he began to paint with a clarity
and intensity befitting the strongest
herbs, most fertile of color
and form unlike anything before —

bowers of rainbow roses
and viridian blessed iris,
shimmering lavender pools
and designs of raw grace
without rules, altogether
unselfed, celebratory
and aware —

before going there,
Monet was painting Heaven.

                                                                    Alla Renée Bozarth
                                                               This Mortal Marriage
                                                                   iUniverse 2003 




      

 The Puzzling Act is Solved

The painter gives away
the last remnant
of his physical life
with his wife
with his own hand,
consigning her sacred letters
one by one to the fire.

It is not to deny her existence
or erase their marriage,
but to create on the white canvas
of his future a new marriage,
which is now entirely spiritual
and solely within his own body 
of work.


  Alla Renée Bozarth
My Passion for Art
 

   
On the Death of Monet’s Wife 

To translate means to bring into the afterworld
     without causing death~ from Webster's.
         Hanging Ode by Anne Shams
       
        Pain passes but beauty remains.
     Renoir to Matisse  

The Beloved dies.
He ceases to live
in his art, and therefore,
his life. He reads her
letters of thirty years
until each word
is burned into his heart.
Then he gives
the letters to fire.
How can he do it?
He no longer paints—
but when he erases
evidence of her physical life 
he forgets that his soul has died,
and he begins again—
resurrecting her through
painting water lilies, irises,
a rainbow of different colored roses
cascading along the branches
of a single tree. The more he forgets
to remember her earthly beauty
the more he translates it, fine stroke
to broad brushwork, into many,
many growing gardens. 

Alla Renée Bozarth 
My Passion for Art




A Way to Grieve 

In the world there are people who sometimes
write a good letter, tell a good story, doodle,
paint, play with clay, sing, play a musical
instrument, cook beautifully, make lovely
things with their minds or hands
or have interesting dreams.
It is likely that they have already
experienced some soul-bending loss.

When your life has been ripped away
from you and you are unmoored,
lost, confused between day and night
and have no outlet but screaming,
weeping or numbness— there is only
one thing you can do before you start
loving and living again—
become an artist.

       Alla Renée Bozarth     

My Passion for Art
Copyright 2014 



Monet’s Last Years

In 1908 you began to lose
the colors, mirrors of light, the purples loosened
their hold on the iris, the blues faded to gray.

Four years later the cataract came down in diagnosis,
a curtain that veiled you from the world you longed for,
could not touch for another decade and more. 

You increased the color, though it was all dark, 
you poured more over the sepia-tinged amorphous
space of the canvass, your brush strokes went heavy 
and long, you threw away the palette and poured 
cans of paint directly on huge canvases, making 
the night- bleeding heavy irises extend off the borders 
of your soul in an outcry for vision. That tiny portion 
of the work you allowed the world to have gave 
an impression of power, but your vitality went 
into anger, and what the world actually saw was 
the text of distress, reading itself loudly and raw 
onto the shaking surface of every day’s effort.

A poet no longer able to find words, arrange them 
to bring up the meanings and music from the soul’s 
pool of infinite response and right phrase—
you worked daily in your quest for light and filled 
your waste bins with loss.

Some housekeeper or personal assistant retrieved 
your refuse unknown to you, and nearly a century later, 
the pieces marked through with huge X’s and mangled 
with your finger marks still visible in broad rage strokes 
are shown in public museums around the world.

Artists who come weep at the indignity.
They do not read the explanatory signs 
along the progression of pain, telling
the story of your eyes and your mind 
in its grief cry. They see art betrayed,
bloody bandages once discarded 
now bandied as museum pieces,
like the corrupt relics of a saint.

They leave the precincts enraged for you.
But I read the signs, meet the paintings 
clinically, not critically.

Not a painter  but a lover of color and luminous 
forms beyond form, I weep also, experiencing 
your autobiographical unfolding in the color 
bleeds that did not reveal your heavenly vision, 
but the leaking out of life from your eyes— 
the waterfall come over them that did not wash 
but occluded, dimming the light from your world 
and siphoning life from your art, forcing you 
to compensate with sheer physicality and 
the feverish beauty buried 
in the chemistry of colors.
 
Only after, when you finally recovered from surgery, 
were you able again to move heaven into earthly music,
embody the unearthly colors of angels’ wings in the flowers
that bloomed in your garden and dreams, and then
everything you touched sang again.

That last little room of redemption that showed 
the paintings that followed, your right lens captured 
by time at the end of your time yet radiant anew
as a window to all of sweet heaven, where a single branch
blossoms out with variations of an entire garden, in hues 
of mauve, rose, indigo, violet, coral and cinnamon red, 
and we dance in our minds to the music that blooms 
in such sublime concert from the joyous baton 
of your brushes.


  Alla Renée Bozarth
My Passion for Art
                 "I would like to paint the way a bird sings." 
                                                                                           Claude Monet

Très Joli, Monsieur Monet

In 1920 you still filled
the whole canvas with color~~
in ‘25, less and less,
and finally before your death
in ‘26 we see so much
space opening up all around
and between, aging white
canvas barely beckoning us
deeper into infinite
unpaintable color and pure
light through the windows
of your second sight.

Tonight at the museum
a tall blond woman
walked through the last room
of your last paintings
and said, “That’s pretty,”
passing a whole spring
child’s play countryside
of coiling colored wisteria,
yellow and mauve irises,
bright viridian and purple
pewter, bronzed shadows
of magenta iris almost
invisibly emerging into
another dimension~~
and finally, The Roses~~
the roses! where perhaps
she did not have time to see
the goddess Iris herself
announcing such Good News,
the Gospel of Living Color
from the miraculous bush
with rainbow bright cobalt,
plum, intense pink roses,
all on the same magical branch
like a heavenly menorah, like

a trumpet blast from the burning
blue feathers of seraphim, fanning
out such greenfire sweetness,
and the hot coral flames
at deep center.     


  Alla Renée Bozarth
My Passion for Art      






 Jade Mountain Gathering of Scholars
1784, artist unknown, as shown 
at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts 
in the Asian Collection of Jade 

A Gathering of Poets at the Lanting Pavilion in 353 AD

At the Orchid Pavilion,
men in clusters or scattered 
on safe paths below await 
their select goblet of wine
floating by in a stream 
that will  stop and require 
of each one of them a poem~
and in carved crevices
from their collection,
a mountain made of words
sculpted under the shade trees.

Will no one in the future 
guess why none of them is even 
pretending to advance upward?   

Truly made of jade,
the light green mass   
looks warm and inviting   
and none of us knows   
how cold and awful   
it probably was,   
a serene falsity,   
or why the little men   
look so embarrassed and  
pale along the rocky way,   
hiding in conversation   
the fact that they are   
momentarily too thin-souled 
for the climb.  

Alla Renée Bozarth  
Sparrow Songs © 1982


2013 Note: Jade Mountain Illustrating the Gathering of Scholars . . .  1784, China, artist unknown

"The theme represented on this jade boulder, the largest piece of jade carving outside of China, refers to an event that occurred on March 3 in the lunar calendar of 353. Wang Xizhi (303-361), a scholar official and one of the most esteemed Chinese calligraphers of all time, together with 41 renowned scholars and officials, gathered at Lanting or Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing (in present-day Zhejiang province), celebrating the Spring Purification Festival. The scholars engaged in a drinking contest: Wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. In the end, 26 of the participants composed 37 poems. Wang Xizhi was asked to write an introduction to the collection of these poems. Written in semi-cursive script and known as Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion (transcribed on the top of the mountain by the Qianlong Emperor), it is the best known and most copied calligraphic work in art history. While the mountain image alone is enough to convey a close association between the jade sculpture and many painted landscapes, the Qianlong Emperor's seal and poem carved at the top on the other side of the boulder reinforces the idea of the jade mountain as a three-dimensional landscape painting." Text from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as shown on Arts Connected~ Tools for Teaching the Arts. 


True Story of a Russian Orphan

The visiting American doctor asked the boy
what he wanted her to paint on his face
for art day at the hospital.

“The yin/yang symbol,” he said.
“Do you know what it means?” she asked.
{The boy was only twelve.}

“It means~~
in Great Light
there is Great Darkness
and in Great Darkness
there is Great Light.”

           Alla Renée Bozarth
This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love, 
Lament and Praise, iUniverse 2003

                                       




                                                   Communion


                                            North South East and West
of my body, straight and fluid
as a magnet’s needle, drawing
all creation home.

Messenger blood bends down,
back, then side to side,
balanced in space,
stretched in all directions,
seeking the lively gift.

My body waits her journey
into living things, deep
down lying animals,
incarnate little creatures
feasting on my bones.

In the warm wet tingle
of earth down under
creatures meet most dearly,
sleep and secrets shared
in earth from cell to cell,
decomposing to recompose,
most real deep down incorporation.

Fire heats the inside planet
keeping all things going,
sacrament of changes, fire
burns to fulfill being itself,
immaterial but loving matter.

Fire is the process
of deep transformation.

North South East and West
fire guided mercury moving me
up, down, from side to side
a body wise with soul.

Bury me under blue
waterfall that my body
may wash deep and straight
into Earth’s heart
in live green ground
a silver arrow,
skin like broken glass
letting the billion particles
of blood spill out, surprised
by air, flooding into
waiting pores.

This is my body given for you,
heart having melted into sod.
This is my blood.

Sunsoaked arms springing
up green shoots newly
for fruit trees
may once again find light
and warm electric shock
of summer rain,

my legs be nests
for small dark
gentle beasts to
busily bed their eggs,

my eye-spaces cradle
doubly round wild iris bulbs,
my eyes see sky again
through the growing upward
faces of red, purple, electric blue
O wildest new wild irises in green fields
with singing roots where others' bodies 
once hummed,

my nails and hair the hidden
flow of seed from past nights
into days for future years
as nesting matter.

Hoping for life
in a tangle of grasses,
my cradle arms outstretched
across oceans for opposite
once-joined lands
reuniting the times.

North South East and West
of my body, I am the gift
I sought in my bones.

Radiant skull leaping
lively inside (because of wild
irises in green fields),
but always aiming upward
waiting for the Yes
of the One Day opening
in a joyous, awesome
spiral of Forever~

Alla Renée Bozarth
This is My Body— 
Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart




   
 A Creature’s Prayer for True Community

O Mysterious One,
You who longed us
into reality, guide us now
into its fullest and best.
O Lonely One,
You who desired us
into our being, bless us now
with kindly kinship—

  Let there be between us
  and growing among us
  that trusting spirit
  of true cooperation,
  whose creative power springs 
  from mutual good will,
  reciprocal expression
  and convivial intention—

    and manifests in that luminous outcome
    that is Your Own dream coming true. Amen!

         Alla Renée Bozarth
   The Frequency of Light

                                                                              




The Redemption of Everything

Redemption is so many things—
getting back what one’s lost
is its basic meaning.

How this happens is endless,
filling the possibility waves
and meridian lines
of the story of everything—

Redeeming the lost energy
that returns with forgiveness.

Redeeming potential obscured by distress.
Redeeming meaningful work lost to illness.

Redeeming stature pressed down by abuse.
Redeeming one’s core self, lost
to obsession, resentment and grief.
Redeeming freedom stolen by fear.

Redeeming beauty from blindness,
grace from the night and stars from our tears.

Redemption is waking from the past
to discover the sun, over and over
and over again.

  Alla Renée Bozarth 
Diamonds in a Stony Field




                                                    Away

If this body were vegetable
humanity too should be able
to sink into earth away from air
down where the great fires are
and so become a black body of
diamond, marvelous gift of before
to be dug for, sought and died for,
so greatly would the power of heat
be craved. 
 
The anthracite graves 
of growing things
belong to another form. 
We can only worship 
at their openings
where hidden bones 
emerge as stones
full of desire for fire, 
glowing with the memory 
of weeds, trees, cactus 
and camellia flower; 
offer them the gift, 
receive their sacrifice
with reverent thanks, 
glad for our own part.

From such rich decay, 
breakdown, all history 
is played, recycled, 
breaks through, and 
this, down here and 
surfacing and loved, 
is what is meant by 
the Communion of Saints.
     
                                               Alla Renée Bozarth
 
                                           This Mortal Marriage~ 
                                   Poems of Love, Lament and Praise






                                         
(Hebrew Scripture Trinity)
Mid-14th century
168 × 144 cmThe Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin
(Image from icon-art.info/masterpiece)

Holy Trinity  icon, Andrei Rublev
between 1408-25
File:Andrej Rublëv 001.jpg



Rublev

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,
slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,
said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

I said, Here is the blood of all our people,
these are their bruises, blue and purple,
gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

These (god) are the chromatic pains of flesh,
I said, I trust I shall make you blush,
O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

For ever, I shall root you in the wood,
under the sun shall bake you bread
of beechmast, never let you forth

To the white desert, to the starving sand.
But we shall sit and speak around
one table, share one food, one earth.

Rowan Williams
After Silent Centuries
The Perpetua Press
Oxford 1994


Rowan Williams (since 2013, Baron Lord Williams of Oystermouth, MP for life) was the Archbishop of Wales where he was born and raised from 1999-2002, when he became the Archbishop of Canterbury until he stepped down in 2012. He studied theology at Christ's College, Cambridge, and graduated Doctor of Philosophy from Wadham College, Oxford in 1975. He was ordained to the diaconate at Ely Cathedral in 1977 and to the priesthood in 1978. He was Bishop of Monmouth (Wales) before he became Archbishop of Wales. He is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. His biography describes him as an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. I would describe him as poet, priest and scholar.

 Kairos Trinity icon (after Russian, Andrei Rublev, early 15th c.)
portion of a larger oil painting on canvas by Carole Baker
for Emmaus Way, Durham, North Carolina

Below: Oregold yellow roses with Japanese maple shrub, 
wildflowers, weeping sequoia sapling and the corner
of the rock fountain and pool  














The living flowers and trees in the images on this post are from Alla's garden (the Wisdom House Garden of Rosa Mystica) except for those in the two images following "True Story of a Russian Orphan," and the exquisite irises in the last five floral closeups, which grow in the garden of my friends Julie Stephens and Butch Hattenberg.

All photos are by Alla except for the Monet paintings and
all of the icon and beech mast images which are from the Internet.

The Rumi roses graphic on the gray marble table was created by Lora Matz on fine onion skin paper. The delicate image is displayed under glass for protection.